Planned Parenthood says the videos are heavily edited and take discussions out of context.
“These videos are hard for anyone to defend and hit at the moral fabric of our society,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Joni Ernst. “Planned Parenthood is harvesting the body parts of unborn babies.”
Ernst’s bill would not only make Planned Parenthood ineligible for federal grant programs, like the federal family planning program, but also ban it from receiving reimbursement from Medicaid for other health services it performs for eligible men and women, such as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. According to the group’s most recent annual report, 41 percent of the $1.3 billion received by the national group and its affiliates came from government sources. Under a series of different laws including the Hyde amendment, none of the federal funds can be used for abortions, which accounted for 3 percent of services Planned Parenthood provides.
Yet even though abortion is a small part of what Planned Parenthood does, the group’s enormous size makes it the nation’s largest single provider of the procedure.
Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, says efforts to defund the group are, in fact, all about abortion. “They don’t care about fetal-tissue research,” she said. “It is just an angle to go after safe, legal abortion.”
But David Daleiden, the 26-year-old head of the group that took the videos, put the focus back on fetal-tissue research. “The goal of our investigation is to reveal the truth about Planned Parenthood’s trafficking and sale of aborted baby body parts for profit,” he said, in a statement, “which is illegal and unethical. Taxpayers should not be paying for these atrocities against humanity.”
But while the tie to fetal tissue is new, the fight to separate Planned Parenthood from its federal funding is, in fact, older than Daleiden himself.
In 1982, the Reagan administration issued the so-called squeal rule. It sought to require family-planning providers, including Planned Parenthood, to notify parents when providing contraceptives to minors, or else lose their funding. Planned Parenthood sued and won in federal court, where the rule was found to be a violation of patient privacy.
In 1987, the Reagan administration issued what came to be known as the “gag rule,” which barred recipients of federal family-planning funds from counseling or referring patients for abortion, and which required both physical and financial separation between contraceptive and abortion services.
Planned Parenthood (and others) sued again, and the case eventually went to the Supreme Court. This time the government won, but the rules remained mired in lower courts and were never fully implemented. President Bill Clinton erased them on his first day in office in 1993 by executive order.